(04 July 2002) The second album from Britain's Melbourne team is an eleven-ambient-track collection entitled Night Star (release information in August 2002). Their former album Indian Ocean (Mystic Records (UK) MYSCD130, 2001) received significant acclaim.
Listeners will immediately be drawn to the material through Carrie Melbourne's sensual voice. She also provides Chapman Stick, bass guitar, acoustic guitar, electric guitar and piano parts to the recording. The lineup is completed with Doug Melbourne (keyboards, programming) and Jamie Fisher (acoustic and electric drums, persussion). Guest musicians on the new album include Steve Marsh (12-string guitar, mandola), Manir Donaghue (electric guitar) and Alan Strong (cello).
Carrie’s beautiful and ethereal vocals are key to the Melbourne sound and make the music instantly identifiable. But that’s not to detract from her talents as a player and writer. Carrie is the lead singer and focal point of the band and her stage performance has been described as mesmeric.
Doug is an extraordinary keyboard player and arranger, and an expert in classic analogue keyboards and synthesisers. Doug’s last project before Melbourne was ReGenesis, a tribute to the Gabriel-era Genesis shows of the early seventies, reproducing some of the most complex keyboard parts ever written for a rock band. In Melbourne, his loops, ambient sounds and powerful piano playing set the band apart from their peers.
Jamie Fisher is a virtuoso musician described as ‘the next Simon Philips’–a musician with amazing technique tempered by taste and restraint. His previous work both live and in the studio encompasses a very wide range of styles and environments.
Readers familiar with the work of Balligomingo (review) and the work of the individual vocalists (review) as well as Lunascape (review) are certain to find Melbourne's latest recording an enjoyable experience albeit more ethereal and atmospheric. The Chapman Stick adds a magically rhythmic lushness to the overall sound that can't be reproduced otherwise.
Night Star opens with tenderly soaring vocalise and the Eastern flavours of "Shanti" before the first highly rhythmic single from the album entitled "Deep Deep Deep" begins. Carrie's vocal work and accent are highly evocative.
Melodic bass and percussion combine with ambient keyboards to underscore the sensuous vocal layers in "Water in the Well," one of the album's clear standouts. The pace picks up with in the gently rocking, but equally ethereal, "Numbskull (Unraveled)". The bass chords sharply contrast Carrie's most sensitive vocals which transition well into the trance tune "End Of The Line."
The gentle rockers and equally accessible "Love Remains" and "For You" are further album standouts. Lush orchestral arrangements and Carrie's incredible guitar solo in the former perfectly compliment the bass and harmony vocal parts. We especially enjoyed the way the theme developed further into "Shoot The Messenger."
"Clandestine" is musically raunchier with almost spoken vocal parts supported by crisp percussion and electric guitar distortions. The gentle ballad "Christmas Is Gone Now" is evocatively sung with only piano accompaniment and is a tribute to Carrie's vocal virtuosity. The album closes with the ambient guitar-laced instrumental "Nexus 6."
Interested readers should browse further reviews, listen to soundbites
and order the band's previous album Indian Ocean at amazon.com
here. The new album is worth further exploration and is certainly a very nice listen!